It isn’t that I don’t appreciate a good vegetable; I do. I’m just very picky about which vegetables I’m willing to appreciate. I have a preconceived notion that most vegetables are a varying degree of not good and should be called as such, making the appreciation process a tough one to get through. It’s hard to love something that wears a repulsive name, such as, “a-gross-agus,” even if the name is self-imposed by someone who hasn’t ever even tried the vegetable. Normal people might use a more familiar name: Asparagus. But, from the smells the cooking vegetable emits, “a-gross-agus” suits it better. Immature, maybe. But, completely true, if you ask me.
So, for much of my life, I missed out on vegetables that might have actually tasted good because I deemed them, at an early age, not edible. I was exposed to most vegetables as a child, encouraged and expected to clean my plate at each meal where at least a third was covered in some sort of vegetable. A combination of fresh, frozen, and canned, vegetables were present in my early years, but a struggle existed in those vegetables reaching full nutritional value because they were rarely actually consumed. Oh, the plight of parents who battle stubborn children at dinnertime.
Eventually, childhood opens the door to adulthood, and there stands a grown woman who has adjusted her viewpoint of vegetables such that the basics (cucumbers, bell peppers, celery, and carrots) are staples in the grocery cart but who is not so far removed from the embedded suspicion of any other vegetable as to branch out to try new things. Not on my own, anyway.
My friend, Amy, has a bit of an experimental chef for a husband. He specializes in fresh vegetables that I, formerly, refused to eat. But, somewhere in the midst of his sprinkling of spices and Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and magic grilling methods, I have accepted the fact that perhaps I have judged a few vegetables too harshly. That maybe, when prepared in such a way, a-gross-agus isn’t as gross as once determined. Brussel sprouts, fennel, eggplant. Perhaps these vegetables have gotten a bad rap from someone who is, otherwise, inexperienced in making such a bold statement as to determine worth, considering I’d never actually tried them.
I’m not going to tell you that I head straight for the vegetables when grocery shopping these days. That would be a lie. But, I am going to tell you, proudly, that I bought cilantro the other day. On my own. Because I wanted to. And, for someone who used to ball her peas in a napkin to hide them from her parents in hopes of convincing them her plate was clear of all vegetables, this is progress. Mighty, mighty progress. There is hope for you weary parents of veggie-hating children. If I can be reformed, anyone can.